The tears mist my eyes, my throat swelling so I almost can't breathe as ache hits me low in the gut and threatens to make me crumble. I push the note back inside quickly, trying to combat it and flick through the cash, mentally counting almost two hundred dollars and it breaks the wall that's been holding in the tears. I slump down onto the floor, like a disheveled sack and begin to cry, holding it close to my chest and completely break down. It's not just for this, but for everything.
Why now did I find my pack, at a time when I thought I had no other option? Why would the fates give me something closer to a real home, only to make it unreachable by the tiniest stretch?
I have to pull myself together and stop being weak. None of this matters, and it doesn't change things. I have to get my crap together and stick to what I decided. I have to stay strong and determined. I can't break, because if I do, I won't be able to put myself back together.
I pull myself to get up and walk to the closet, despite heaving with wracking breaths, sniffing, as I try to stop the tears. I have to find some sort of bag to pack my shit up and focus on doing, not feeling. Luckily, whoever brought my things from the orphanage, packed some of them in a large backpack that had been Vanka's. I drag it out of the bottom corner, holding it for a second, a fresh wave of pain twisting my insides as I stroke across the corner where she wrote her name in a black marker pen. Bold, jaggy letters, that somehow represent who she was in life. I numb it out, swallow it down, and begin to haul out essentials and stuff them inside.
I need basics, like a couple changes of clothes, toiletries, the money, the snacks I have in my room. I need something to sleep with too, like a blanket to lay on the ground, and something to carry water in, just in case I can't find a stream or river in hours. I don't know what else to pack, and I end up shoving things in haphazardly. A book I never got to reading, the iPod that was among my belongings, and then I realize I probably won't be able to charge it if I stay in the wilderness and put it back on the shelf. I find a lighter, a swiss pen knife that I kept among my treasured items from my father's possessions. Some old camping matches, and his flint stick for making fires, should I run out of the others.
I push through my stuff and come to Colton's grey t-shirt, pausing painfully, recognizing it as the one he gave me to wear when I shredded my clothes. I thought I 'd given everything back to Meadow for him, but this still remains, like a scar on my heart. His human smell still lingers in the fabric, despite it being washed, or maybe I'm just conjuring it up for myself, his scent so ingrained in my head that I will it to come back at me. I impulsively push it in the bag, stroking it for a second too long, and zip everything up inside. I shouldn't take a part of him with me, for my own sanity, but I can't bear to take it back out.
I keep checking my watch, even though I know I have another 3 hours before they assemble for dusk patrol. I have to kill time without going back downstairs and acting weird. I need to occupy myself up here until it's time to go, without obsessing and driving myself crazy.
A shower!!! The thought hits me… that's an idea, and a nap if I can force it. Refresh myself, change into more suitable clothes than this sport pant and t-shirt duo I have sweated all over. Tasks will pass the time and keep my brain centered.
I pull my clothes off without hesitation, throwing them in my wash basket and head to the bathroom quickly. Yanking my hair down from my ponytail and turn on the shower, testing it before I go to step in.
Lorey? You there? Colton's voice hits me in the center of my forehead, the last thing I was expecting and I almost slide with surprise as I lay my foot on the wet shower floor, grabbing onto the door to stop myself falling, like a newborn fawn on unsure legs, almost crashing into mayhem.
For the love of all that is holy!! Why are the fates screwing with me today?
Yes, what do you want? I snap, a little harshly, instantly remorseful at my knee jerk reaction to him, then not, when anger kicks me in the butt and reminds me what an ignorant asshat he is. That he's all good to reach out now, after an unexpected brush with me downstairs, that clearly pushed his need to contact me button a lot harder. I rub my bruised shin which bashed the shower screen and jump in under the hot water instead of standing out here like an idiot.
I just…. after seeing you downstairs….. I wanted to make sure you're doing okay. I can pick up on the hesitation, the agony in his tone and I end up sighing heavily. Madness wavering, because I'm a fool when it comes to him sounding like this, this boy, and against all my better judgements, I soften my tone when I should be cutting him off instead.